They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, where is my village? I feel like I am entitled to some help, so please bring me a village now!
Seriously, if we don’t bring the ‘villages’ back, in whatever form is possible in our modern society, I truly believe we are doomed. Like animals in the zoo who don’t know what to do with their young because they never had the opportunity to learn from their fellow (insert species here), us humans are slowly but surely unlearning how to take care of our young.
It starts with giving birth. In the mid 1900s, women were put under general anesthesia for the duration of their labor. Some where even put in straitjackets. Really?!? They woke up and were handed a clean baby. Is it any surprise that women felt detached from their children? Birth is becoming more and more medicalized. While women in underdeveloped countries have a support network of village women to help them through labor, women in the ‘developed’ countries are put in hospital and treated like sick people without much emotional support. We as a species are on our way to forgetting how to give birth.
Breastfeeding is an art form that is on the verge of extinction in developed countries. While children are breastfed up to around age four in developing countries, babies here are lucky if they get any breast milk at all. Of course formula is also an adequate form of nourishment and has been a blessing for innumerable babies. On the other hand, we as human beings have surrendered our inherent power over what our infants ingest. We feel like our milk is inferior to formula, not trusting our bodies to produce what they were made to for our babies. Instead, giant corporations are now in charge of feeding us from birth to grave…
How to raise our children is a mystery to many of us. I know I am often completely at a loss and cram my head full of information I have read in books or on the Internet. It’s not because we have no common sense. It’s because we have lost our villages as an example and support network.
When I had my first baby, I was a few weeks shy of 30. While I had been around many of my friend’s infants, I had never lived with one or been with one for more than a few hours. I found myself utterly confused and terrified of making a mistake. I was given so much advice from all kinds of well-meaning people, but unfortunately it was all conflicting. When one person told me that spoiling a baby was impossible, the next told me that I shouldn’t pick my baby up too much.
I was given my first attachment parenting book by one of my best friends and found exactly what I was looking for. However, each new stage in my children’s lives has me standing in front of a brick wall again. The suggestions stream in from both sides, but what is the right one? I try to trust my instincts as much as possible, but it is difficult in a world in which we are so removed from all that is innate to human nature.
The more women are all alone with this huge task of motherhood, the worse it is going to get. We as humans are not made to sit in a house all day by ourselves with our children. Think of the villages- everyone being together, the mothers talking, the children playing, the babies attached to breasts or sleeping in arms. What has happened to us? I am sick of it and I want a village, so please let’s try to bring them back!!!